Enraged, Ratchet lobs an empty solvent canister at First Aid's head with one hand while the other is scraping behind his chevron. "Primus fraggit to the pit, you fool! What did I tell you about decontaminating for scraplets?!"
First Aid picks up the dicebag and rolls against -3*(his agility) <Dodge the canister>. First Aid's roll fails!
"Ouch!" First Aid exclaims, rubbing his helm. "What are- I *did* decontaminate for scraplets after Reliquary left- I washed down everything! Twice!" He takes in the sight of Ratchet scratching madly. ".... Ratchet, why are you scratching?"
"Clearly you missed a spot," the CMO hisses, pulling his digits from his helm and staring at his servotips while he rolls his shoulders. "I've been scratching scraplets all shift, and it's amazing how depleted our solvent supply happens to be. Damnable Reliquary should've been dumped in a vat of the stuff," he fumes, rocking his head back and forth to be less obvious about scratching.
First Aid says, "Our solvent supply is depleted because I cleaned everything in here after Reliquary was here last, and the time before that when I ran into him outside of Iacon. I /know/ I did." First Aid frowns. His plating is now positively crawling, and he has to stop himself from scratching his elbow. It's probably psychosomatic, he decontaminated everything very well after treating Reliquary. "Reliquary didn't have any signs of an active infection- no encrusted paint, visible rust or deteriorated patching, and if he had any itching or irritation, he wasn't showing it at all." He catches himself scratching his elbow again, and puts his hands down.
Ratchet glares, staring at First Aid's arm. "Swab it and scope it. Right now," he orders. He scrabbles at his hip angrily. "He could've had a nascent case without symptoms. It happens all the time... it's why those fraggers are so flaming contagious!"
First Aid ... scuttles across the bay, looking somewhere between appalled (Scraplets! In the med bay! From HIS patient!), disgusted (Scraplets! ewwww!) and hurt (Ratchet has /never/ yelled at him before, and he's positive he cleaned everything, twice!) to the lab, where he swabs the itchy area in his elbow joint and makes a slide, dropping it onto the microscope to examine. "Maybe it happens all the time, but I've never had them before- ugh!" he says.
"Crawling swab?" Ratchet asks tightly as he scratches his neck cables, not even bothering to be stealthy this time.
First Aid nods vigorously. "Where's the solvent? That's /disgusting/." He sighs. "I was trying to not upset him, he'd just been kidnapped by Decepticons! Do you know if they've released him yet? Maybe he's still debriefing, or something? Or maybe Lifeline can find him and tell him he needs to get decontaminated."
Ratchet indicates the quarter-full solvent bottle on the laboratory bench with disgust as he picks up a spent swab and jams the hard end into his hands, scratching between the plates on his servos. "Lifeline's probably been telling him, but you saw for yourself how well that works," he says, scratching behind the base of his helm. "Start with that, although it didn't do much for me. Fragging things must be getting resistant, or I've just got 'em entrenched."
"Lifeline always tells people they shouldn't scratch," First Aid says, walking over to the workbench and grabbing the bottle of solvent. He pours some on a cleaning rag pulled out of subspace and begins cleaning his plating with it.
"Lifeline's pretty much right," Ratchet mutters in annoyance at the intern's statement, which he flatly ignores as he scratches avidly at a side seam. "Scratching facilitates transmission. In many cases, it's easier to resist than when the victim is /allergic to the pit-humping things./ Trust me, not scratching is hardly an option." He finishes on that seam and works on the opposite one. He huffs. "Reliquary was asymptomatic when he was here," he says contemplatively.
First Aid tilts his head, still scrubbing. "You're allergic to them? Ugh. How do you know you've gotten rid of them?" He asks. "I'm sorry, that must be awful. And yes, Reliquary wasn't scratching at all. He said that the special oil he uses on his plating keeps them away. I didn't believe him, but I didn't want to upset him any more than I had to, either."
"Feel that crawl? When that stops, they're probably gone, although any rust might still itch for a while," Ratchet replies as he scratches the insides of his elbows and wrists. He sighs. "Symptoms start at around half an orn after infection, even for me. Reliquary could've had them and spread them, but he was here a lot less than half an orn ago." His optics narrow. "Or now he has them, and I'm not so sure about that oil cure."
First Aid looks guilty. "Ratchet, if that oil cure works, he might have gotten exposed by /me/. I wiped a lot of it off when I was trying to clean up the grunge in his gears." First Aid stops scrubbing and shakes his arm. "Ugh. ALL my plating is crawling now. How long does it take for them to spread, then?"
Ratchet snorts. "Contact will do it," he says, "within an eighth of an orn of exposure. In fact, contact is just about the only way they'll spread." He's digging in his shoulder joints now, sighing happily as he strikes a sensor node. "You just might have. Good job," he says as he begins to root around in the supply cabinet.
"Oh no!" First Aid says. He beings scrubbing down his other arm and hands. "Is there anything that works better than solvent on them?"
"Why do you think I'm in such a slagging awful mood?" Ratchet asks from the supply room, where a shelf can be heard to rattle as he rubs his back against it. "Solvent will do it, but you need an awful lot of it. The things can crawl, and that includes under armor. Sealant only works if you're uninfected and trying to stop initial transmission. Once you're infested, you need to go swimming in solvent." He rolls out a large canister of sealant by its end. "We don't have that much handy," he says sourly.
First Aid shakes his head and adds more solvent to the cloth, scrubbing harder- okay, so he's really just itching with the cloth. It's not scratching, it's not. "What can we do then? Is anyone else infected yet? Jackknife was in here when Reliquary was. Oh no!"
Ratchet glares at the intern. "Not hard to get an epidemic, is it? Fair bet she's probably infected," he says with a frown, which morphs into a grimace as he scratches under an arm. "We either start making it, or we make calls to get it, because at this rate, I think I'd soak myself in one of Wheeljack's chemistry experiments and light myself on fire just to keep my plating from itching so much."
First Aid makes a face. "Fire kills them?"
Ratchet nods grimly. "Burn them for long enough, sure. Might kill the patient in the process, but they'll have relief for their last few breems," he says. His engine growls as he scrapes under his front fender. "Half an orn goes back to that damned downed Seeker femme with the open laser core. Primus!" he swears. "Every patient since then could be carrying these things, and passing them on. Primus fraggit with a crankshaft, sideways!"
First Aid is looking impressed by the swearing. "So... we need more solvent. Should I go look in the supply room, or... you've probably already done that, I imagine. What can I do?" He looks around for an idea.
Ratchet sighs. "Even if we could just get it to spray from the washracks and leave someone under the spray for long enough, that would do it. We can plumb anything in, that's not the problem. We just need something to kill the scraplets to plumb onto the line," he says. "It needs to stop function in those little fraggers' circuits without ruining the patient's," he says as he scratches the back of his neck.
First Aid shakes his head. "Maybe we should see if Lifeline has extra solvent to spare?"
Ratchet nods as he scrapes around his audials. "Ping her and ask," he says. "And I'm not allergic, or you're getting a wrench through the optic."
First Aid opens a comm line, scratching idly at the cables on the side of his neck. First Aid pages Lifeline with 'Hey Lifeline? Do you have any extra anti-scraplet solvent? *scratchscratchscratch*'
Lifeline pages First Aid: Ye...what is that scraping noise?
First Aid pages Lifeline with 'Oops, sorry. *the noise stops* Nothing.'
From afar, Lifeline sounds suspicious. "WHY do you need the solvent?"
First Aid pages Lifeline with '"To get rid of scraplets, of course." First Aid says matter of factly. "A /lot/ of scraplets."'
Ratchet goes back into the tool room and returns with a large wrench, edges rounded from frequent use and handling. He stretches his arm as far back as it can go to work the end of the wrench against his back, and actually smiles for a moment, until his elbow itches and he has to straighten the arm to settle it. He growls in annoyance. "Well?" he asks.
First Aid says "I'm talking to her. She's asking me questions." He eyes the wrench cautiously. "Is that really helping?"
Ratchet shrugs, then rolls, his shoulders. "It scratches. I'll take it. Want one?" he asks.
From afar, Lifeline (LL) utters some curses that might remove rust as well as that solvent. "How long, First Aid? And don't lie to me."
First Aid shakes his head. "No, I'm okay." He surreptitously scratches his arm. First Aid pages Lifeline with 'I only realized I was infected today! Ratchet thought it was Reliquary but I /know/ I did a good job decontaminating after he was here, and he hasn't been gone long enough for anyone to be showing symptoms and Ratchet is really, really mad.'
Ratchet goes into his office and retrieves a data pad and sits it on a berth to operate it with one hand while he uses the other to scratch. He claws at his chevron, then around the edge of his helm surrounding his face.
From afar, Lifeline (LL) curses some more, then starts transmitting the recipe for the solvent. "It'll take too long for me to send what I have. Give the ingredient list to Ratchet."
First Aid pulls a data pad from subspace, transmitting a file that Lifeline's sending to him directly to the pad. "Lifeline's sending me the recipe for the stuff she uses to get rid of it." He reports.
First Aid pages Lifeline with 'Thank you," First Aid sounds relieved. The scratching noise resumes briefly and then stops again. "This is /awful./ Poor Ratchet."'
"Cross-check it with our inventory tables, to make sure we have everything. If they're standard chemicals, trigger new orders," he says as he enters an advisory for Iacon letter by letter. He gnaws on his wrists.
Lifeline (LL) pages First Aid: What the hell is wrong with Ratchet? Don't lie to me.
First Aid pages Lifeline with 'He said not to say, but he's really, really cranky. And he's going to scratch all the paint on his chevron right off if he's not careful.'
"Yes sir," First Aid heads for the supply closet to check off inventory against the list. "I think we have most of it, but... how much exactly are we going to /make/?" Scratch, scratch, scratch.
"As much as our inventory allows, and then we keep ordering and making. I told you these are contagious without symptoms. They'll spread like a fire in an energon refinery, and I promise this med bay will be awfully busy to use up whatever we make." He grunts as he gives up typing for a few minutes to work one hand through the side of his neck and the other on his waist.
First Aid says, "Right- I think we can make up at twenty or thirty cubes right now with what we've got. We have most of the surfactants, it's the acids that actually cause circuit decay that we don't have on hand in quantity, although maybe one of the weapons engineers might?" First Aid is thinking out loud. He keeps catching himself scratching and stopping, then starting again when he gets distracted. "I put an order in the inventory system for the materials we need to make an additional 30- that'd put us up to fifty."
From afar, Lifeline (LL) curses again. "Go make that solution NOW, First Aid. And send a message to Murusa of Crystal City. Go!"
Ratchet nods. "Fine for a start, although we'll need to start ordering more when the supply is depleted by a third, assuming generic spread and symptomaticity rates. Acids should be in quantity in Wheeljack's shop," he says, striding for the applicable door, only to find the shop empty. He stops to use a pede to scratch the opposing ankle. He digs in the corrosives cabinet and hauls out two large carboys of acid, which he lobs onto a berth back in the 'bay. "These had better do the job," he says, scratching his chest. First Aid pages Lifeline with 'We are, we are. I ordered materials for more of it, too. Um... would you be on the lookout for Reliquary? I think- no, actually, I'm pretty sure he's been exposed to.'
First Aid says, "Lifeline says we should contact Murusa, too, in Crystal City." He begins carrying the surfactants in smaller containers back into the med bay.
Lifeline (LL) pages First Aid: I can do that. Any ideas on how the infestation started?
First Aid adds. "Lifeline wants to know if you know where the infestation started?"
"We had a pair of Decepticon prisoners around half an orn ago, and they're our likely culprits, given incubation time," Ratchet replies. Scratch. He frowns. "I've sent a message to Murusa as a warning, but she might not have symptomatic patients yet." Like him. Scratch, scratch. He hisses.
First Aid pages Lifeline with 'He thinks it came in with the Decepticon prisoners we had in earlier this orn, given the incubation time." First Aid relays. "He's sent a message to Murusa.'
First Aid nods and goes back to the supply room, returning with a large empty barrel. "Will this work to hold the mix?" He says.
Ratchet nods. "That should do it. Let me know when you're ready to test the first batch," he says as he grimaces at a miserable crawling in his joints. He twitches as he tries to go back to his data pad, and just grabs the wrench and scratches with it. Continuously.
First Aid nods, propping his data pad up on a berth so he can look at the recipe while he begins to combine the ingredients. "Hey Ratchet? What if we came up with some way to filter and recirculate the solvent?" He pours large containers of surfactants, one after the other into the barrel, and then adds a smaller measure of the acids from Wheeljack's lab, using a smaller container to dip into the large barrels. The surfactants are significantly thicker than the acid, and he goes to the supply cabinet and returns with a long metal rod that becomes a makeshift stir stick, and the entire mixture is thinned with a neutral, nonreactive solvent compound before he begins adding the only dry ingredient, some sort of white gritty powder that dissolves into the mixture leaving a sort of foamy scum on the surface. Lifeline (LL) pages First Aid: Good. Tell me if there's anything else I can do. I know going there would just make things worse.
First Aid pages Lifeline with 'I don't know, maybe you could make Ratchet stop scratching. The first batch is mixing."'
"We do have that, in our decontamination washracks here," Ratchet replies. "The filters should be fine for something of this size. All we really need is the solvent to run through the system." He twitches his shoulders angrily, then jams in the head of the wrench to strike that sensor node. His lips twitch upward in a relieved smile before he starts trying to fit the wrench into the other shoulder.
Lifeline (LL) pages First Aid and Ratchet: Ratchet.
Ratchet (Ratch) pages Lifeline and First Aid: Now what?
Lifeline (LL) pages Ratchet and First Aid: Stop scratching.
Ratchet (Ratch) pages Lifeline and First Aid: Not a chance!
First Aid stifles a grin and keeps stirring the batch of solvent in the barrel.
Ratchet brandishes the wrench angrily at First Aid. "If you weren't preparing a cure for this, I'd be taking your head off with *this*!" He starts digging into the backs of his knees.
You paged Lifeline and Ratchet with 'Well... I'm not sure if threatening me is an improvement or not. I think so.'
First Aid removes the stir stick. "I think this batch is as mixed as I can get it- I wonder if someone has some sort of mixer or blender, I don't really know what to do with anything in this sort of quantity. Do you want to try it out?"
Ratchet (Ratch) pages First Aid and Lifeline: If I didn't need to scratch so much, I'd be doing a lot worse than threatening. And it's not as though Lifeline can stop me from Cubicron!
First Aid pages Lifeline and Ratchet with 'I think we need something bigger to mix this with, but the first batch should be ready. That's 15 of the 20 cubes we have enough material for.'
Ratchet practically jumps at the chance. "The recirculating pump will do the job just fine, thank you. Start loading the washracks!" He sprints for the plumbing system and starts undoing the pipes to the empty, original reservoirs, which he opens and puts a loading funnel into so they can be loaded with freshly prepared solvent. Come on... Scratch... Quickly... Scratch...
Lifeline (LL) pages Ratchet and First Aid: You keep scratching and you're going to damage your sensor array. Don't make me go down there and treat you like a protoform fresh off the assembly line.
First Aid pages Ratchet and Lifeline with 'I'm not! Much, anyway. Really." (Unlike certain other people, is implied.)'
First Aid shoves the barrel over to the washracks- it's heavy- and hefts it up to begin pouring it into the funnel Ratchet set up, the mixture foaming up some as it's transferred.
From afar (to Lifeline and First Aid), Ratchet (Ratch) snorts. "You're welcome to stop by and get infected yourself, so I can threaten you. You might be able to save First Aid from a fate worse than disassembly for gossiping." He doesn't tell Lifeline that he's angrily worrying his neck cables while he speaks.
First Aid pages Ratchet and Lifeline with 'I'll begin mixing up the rest that we have the materials for, Ratchet," First Aid volunteers, leaving the comm link open. Possibly so Lifeline can hear in case he /does/ get disassembled or something....'
Lifeline (LL) pages First Aid and Ratchet: "If that first batch is ready, First Aid, Ratchet gets the first treatment. Ratchet, if you want to avoid being re-infected, use the spray sealant on both your hands and feet." She sounds like she speaks from experience. And knowing Cubicron...
From afar (to First Aid and Lifeline), Ratchet (Ratch) scratches his chevron and hurries to get the sealant and spike it, too, into the plumbing system on an alternate line. "Oh, I'm bathing in the stuff," he says, pausing to scratch the seams in his ventral plates before slamming the door to the wash rack and starting the solvent spray.
Ratchet barely stops the radio fast enough to squawk in relief while the acids burn in his shoulder joints and neck cables. He just lets the wash rack run.
First Aid doesn't laugh at the noises, but he does smile as Ratchet basically /runs/ past him into the washracks. He takes the now empty barrel back over to the supplies set out by the workbench and begins mixing up another batch to add to the reservoir using the remainder of the supplies.
Lifeline (LL) pages Ratchet and First Aid: Good, good. First Aid, I want you in there next. Don't think I can't still hear you scratching.
Ratchet sighs happily in relief, then switches over to the sealant and starts spraying it everywhere he can reach. Never again! Never, ever again! Once he's left with the dull tingle of the spots of rust that characterize his reaction, and after he's sure that he's sealed his pedes and servos, he steps out of the wash rack. He's certainly not scratching anymore.
Ratchet (Ratch) pages Lifeline and First Aid: That... is one fragging awesome recipe.
First Aid pages Ratchet and Lifeline with 'As soon as I finish mixing this batch," He promises.'
Ratchet (Ratch) pages First Aid and Lifeline: You, in the 'rack, now. I'll put in the batch.
First Aid holds up his hands and heads for the wash rack. First Aid pages Lifeline and Ratchet with 'Going, going, going!"'
First Aid steps into the wash rack and turns the solvent spray on, scrubbing to work it into joints and under the edges of armor panels.
Ratchet follows the tab on the recipe to finish adding solvent ingredients and stirs everything together. It's a slightly unwieldy process to transfer the solvent into the wash rack reservoir -- a little bit spills on the floor, and Ratchet marvels at the resulting change in the floor tile color -- but he eventually gets it all transferred to the reservoir.
Another breem of scrubbing, and First Aid switches over to the sealant flow, carefully coating his hands and feet as Lifeline recommended. "That really does work wonders," he says, stepping out of the wash rack and eyeing the floor tile dubiously. "I didn't know it was that color."
Ratchet snorts. "It's not. That's some strong solvent," he says as he picks up the data pad again and gets back to issuing his warning.
"Oh." First Aid says, and opens the comm line again.
First Aid pages Lifeline and Ratchet with 'Thanks, Lifeline. The solvent works great.'
Ratchet (Ratch) pages First Aid and Lifeline: I don't think I've heard of a better recipe. Certainly it beats the stock stuff. Thank you, Lifeline.
Lifeline (LL) pages First Aid and Ratchet: Good. Keep that recipe. I have a feeling you're going to need it.